LWE Interviews Joey Anderson

The last decade or so has seen the emergence of a pack of house artists from New York and its environs, namely Levon Vincent, Jus-Ed, Fred P, and DJ Qu (Anthony Parasole also deserves mention, if mostly as a DJ and personality). These artists came up in the city’s club scene and really honed their respective takes on dance music after the fact. All are now ubiquitous in discerning DJ sets the world over. New Jersey’s Joey Anderson is very much a part of this group, but his break has only arrived in the last year or so. In that time, he has released a slew of fantastic records, reducing house to its bare essentials while retaining an elusive, mystical sensibility. In advance of his performance at secretsundaze this Sunday, May 26th, LWE asked Anderson about his roots, his methods, and his future, which looks just as bright as his peers’.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to take it way back to start. Where did you grow up? What is your earliest musical memory?

I’m from a small, one square mile town called Hoboken, in Hudson County, New Jersey, 10 minutes from Manhattan by train. I guess my earliest music memory was hearing hip-hop outside and on radios.

What drew you to hip-hop?

Yeah, hip-hop was kinda the lifestyle we grew up in. I guess the attitude, fashion, language, and graffiti was kinda the norm. As a kid, besides athletics, everything was based around hip-hop culture.

You also started dancing in this period, right? From what I gather, your love of dancing has been steady throughout your life.

Yes. I’ve been dancing for most of my young and adult life. Kind of slowing down now I think, haha. My focus now is becoming better at my productions.

After hip-hop, you got into house. What drew you to house? Was there an immediate epiphany or were you listening to and dancing to both? Seems like there was a lot of cross-pollination between the two for a while. What were the differences between the two scenes?

From frequenting hip-hop parties looking for some dope dancers to check out, I saw this one dancer that stood out. I asked my friend, “What the hell is that?” My friend told me he was dancing house. This pushed me to check out more parties that played house music. [The] hip-hop scene I grew up in was [the time of] Run-DMC, Red Alert, Marley Marl. People were battling on the dance floor or getting into fights that would end the party. Later, [when] I went to house parties, it was like a breath of fresh air. The music was more worldly and terrestrial. Dancers seemed to bring more worldly skills to the floor. People dressed different, wore their hair different. I think the main difference between the two was how people expressed themselves.

What were the first house records you got into? How has your taste changed since then?

It was the early Chicago stuff. I’m still amazed at their creations. For me, it’s one of America’s newest creations of art in the music scheme. And it really hasn’t changed. I still look for the kick, hi-hats, drums, keys, and distant words, no matter if it’s coming from Berlin, New York, Japan, or Planet Jupiter.

What sort of parties were you dancing at in this time period? Can you describe progressing from just dancing, or maybe being a serious dancer but not a touring one, to the high level you ended up performing at?

In Manhattan there [were] many I would go to: The Tunnel, Wild Pitch, Ajax, The Octagon, Mars, Redzone, Sound Factory, Palladium, Limelight, The Choice, and a few others. I always was following where the dope dancers were. I feel I was blessed to witness some of the greatest innovators on the dance floor. I learned my foundational dance steps from watching and practicing. I never abandoned dancing and I kept trying to develop my skills. I never sought out to perform or give dance lessons. I was approached and asked to teach. From there that lead to performances.

When and how did you make the switch from dancing to DJing and producing?

Some years ago I started buying records just to collect. Later my friends, the Exchange Place crew — DJ Qu and David S — asked me to hang out with them to spin some records. I had no idea, but they had been meeting up playing records together for some time. I started playing records with them first and fell in love with the art. We all started meeting up regularly, playing new records we would get and having discussions over them. Fun times. Then I remember Qu saying he wanted to make tracks. I had no interest at the time to produce, but after I heard him play “Warrior Dance” in a car I quickly had a change of mind. Mad respect to Qu — he gave me the first software that started me playing around with production.

You definitely have your own style, but I would casually compare you to your associate DJ Qu, in the sense that your tracks both seem to get a lot out of a few elements. Is your gear limited to the essentials? How do you ensure that you don’t overload your tracks?

Well, I guess I aim for making a song out of a track, or at least I try. It does not really matter to me what’s missing or needs to be taken out. I use almost anything for making tracks. That’s the fun part.

They also strike me as quite carefully produced. What is your method like? Do you start with a particular element and just build and jam on top, or is it more planned out?

I have no particular method. I try to relay how I feel that day to a track. I picture what I would dance to in the creative sense of it. As a dancer, I don’t need beats to dance. Just a mental picture or a thought. I find these are always present when I begin working.

You’ve done a few remixes. It’s often a tricky thing for a producer to leave a personal stamp on a remix, but I think you’ve succeeded. The recent October remix in particular sounds like it could completely be one of your originals. How does your process for remixes differ from the process for your originals, if at all? Do you like doing them?

Thank you! Remixes are tough, I find, being that I don’t want to disrupt the original. I choose a part of the original I’m going to work with and try and add something about me to it. I try and keep his sound with my idea, kind of.

You also use a lot of vocals. What is the motivation behind those?

I love experimenting with words. It’s fun and can be a useful tool, if one is the unlimited ideas type.

On that note, “Table of Contents!” is the most direct track I’ve heard from you — owing to that vocal part — but also one of the jazziest and loosest musically. What’s the story behind that one? Do you think you’ll continue to incorporate this personal, narrative quality into your work?

I was a bit pissed off that day but was enjoying the groove. It is a bit loose and jazzy. Sometimes I will and sometimes I won’t [incorporate a narrative]. It depends if it will work.

On a more abstract tack, I sense a kind of earthy, organic quality about your tracks — in the sort of repetitive, ritualistic percussion, and even down to titles like, “Granite,” “Earth Calls,” “3200 BC House Dancer.” Any idea where that comes from?

I am a fan of ancient history, astronomy, and geology. It’s a part of me, so I make it part of my music.

Similarly, I was wondering about your relationship with your contemporaries, or the sort of tri-state-area scene you’re grouped with. Can you describe your relationship with — first and
foremost — DJ Qu, but also guys like Levon Vincent, Fred P., and Jus-Ed?

Qu is my boy/my friend first. We came up in the same scene together. But all the above share the same love, passion, and beauty about the music. Also they all experienced some of the old New York club scene as it used to be.

Beyond these producers, who would you consider to be your musical influences?

Larry Heard Larry Heard Larry Heard Larry Heard!

Listening to Organisms next to your more recent stuff, it sounds like you’ve grown more comfortable with your sound and your palette. Like for example, there’s a track on Organisms with an upfront acid line, which I haven’t heard you use since. Would you agree?

Organisms was special for me. It was my first release on Inimeg Records. Yeah, I don’t just like acid records, I like some of everything.

How is Inimeg going? What pushed you to start your own label?

Inimeg is good. Actually, INMR 003, Diagram Solutions, is in stores now. I started my own label as an outlet for my music. I’m blessed. I never in my life could conceive of this. But I had the guidance of good friends like Qu, Jus-Ed, and Anthony Parasole.

What’s next for you, release-wise, tour-wise, music-wise, personally, etc.?

As I said before, INMR003 has just come out. There is an EP with Absurd on their sub label called Avenue 66. I’m really excited about that. You have a beautiful remix by Vakula on there. A project with Annunaki Cartel called The Act of Speech. Also I’m currently working on my first album with Dekmantel, due out later in the year. Music-wise, I’m not sure — just keep creating. At the end of the month I will be at secretsundaze in London. Really pumped for that one! Stay deep and support art!

DJ QU  on May 22, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Nice Read Indeed!

cory  on May 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Thank you for interviewing him, a true great in today’s standard. Such a down to earth guy who really respects the artistic edge of dance music.

Lola @ Plan B Recordings  on May 22, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Respect Joey. Great interview. Love the references to geology & ancient sciences. Me too. Keep on pushing Joey! You have a unique sensibility.

lerato  on May 22, 2013 at 1:07 PM

great joey !!!

nicbaird  on May 23, 2013 at 5:04 AM

Go Joey! One of my fave producers at the moment

AYBEE  on May 23, 2013 at 7:01 AM

^ An Ambassador of the Rhythm ^

al blayney  on May 23, 2013 at 8:01 AM

A true gent and talented Artist…..Nice Interview

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on May 24, 2013 at 7:55 AM

Be Ready People,

His “Above The Cherry Moon” EP is going to be ridiculous! Amazing tune. Thanks Joey for supporting the show as well… Support will be reciprocated on my end…

Kennedy Smith  on May 24, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Good time Reading!

amaury  on May 30, 2013 at 8:24 AM

good to see a feature on Joey! nice read too!

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